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Archive for August, 2008

BACKPACK Project Going Strong!

pencils The Times and Trib’s school supplies drive, “Project Ready to Learn”, which benefits needy kids in the San Francisco East Bay, ends this Friday, so we’re getting ready for the final push. Readers have been incredibly generous in donating school supplies – keep ‘em coming! For a list of drop-off spots and needed items, read on…
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Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
Under: Other | No Comments »

THOREAU Writes Home from the Dorm

Famous novelists’ letters home from college? imagines them all, the missive from Henry David Thoreau, who keeps to his room lest a “frisbee to the cranium … shatter his intense connection to the earth and the sky”, the whimsical note from Lewis Carroll (“School is simply a frilling jolly time!”) and the briefest of memos from Ernest Hemingway. Oh yeah. Enjoy.

Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

PARENT POLL: Grand Theft Auto or Raging Kegger?

Video game controller We are just reeling over something our buddy Danny at Gamester discovered this morning. According to a survey by the family-centric game site What They Play, parents are more concerned about their older teens playing “Grand Theft Auto,” than about their exposure to booze, violence or porn. Ahem. Supposedly, the poll results “demonstrate that parents are as apprehensive about their children’s media diets as they are about traditional social issues such as alcohol, drugs, violence and sex.” Um, no. No, it doesn’t. It demonstrates that parents are nuts. Read Danny’s hilarious take, then click “comments” and tell us: What would you worry about most at a 17-year-old’s slumber party? Kids watching porn, smoking dope, drinking beer or playing Grand Theft Auto?

Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens, Parenting Issues, Technology & Video Games | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: Dads, Dates and Preschool

Toddler by Rick Nease, MCT Direct “Be the Dad Your Child Needs”
Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at Bananas, Oakland
A workshop for dads on time management, communication and child development, led by Eric Reynolds. Free.

“10 Great Dates”
Fridays through Aug. 29 from 7 to 9:15 Danville’s Community Presbyterian Church
A series designed to energize marriages and strengthen families. Childcare for kids in 1st through 5th grades (babysitting vouchers for younger kids). (One time charge of $15 per couple plus $10 for the book.)
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Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2008
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »


"Sideways Stories from Wayside School" School’s starting and soon the little munchkins will be scampering off to classrooms everywhere. Here’s hoping they get a teacher like Ms. Frizzle, as opposed to Louis Sachar’s inspired creation, Mrs. Gorf. The Wayside School teacher was so mean she’d zap children into apples if they got an answer wrong – much to the delight of young readers everywhere. And we’ve got the book and “Wayside School Season One” DVD to prove it! They could be yours, too. Just click “comments” and tell us, who was your most memorable teacher? Fictional, real, wonderful, weird, it’s all good. (This contest is now closed — congrats, Maria P!)

Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2008
Under: Books, Contest | No Comments »

42 RULES for Working Moms

LAURA LOWELL (Anda Chu/The Argus) We are loving Laura Lowell’s “42 Rules for Working Moms.” There may be zillions of how-to books out there on being pregnant and raising tots, but it’s a vast wasteland when it comes to the logistics of juggling work and family. So Lowell assembled the best advice from 42 working moms into this eminently readable little book, and offered it up in bite-sized chunks because really, the last thing a working parent — or any exhausted parent for that matter — has is leisure to read. Read the interview with Laura in today’s Times. Check out the book here. Then let’s dish on those rules and add a few more.

Rule #2: Your daughter can brush her own hair. — Robin Wolaner, founder of Parenting Magazine.

Rule #12: Stay ahead of your schedule. — Alice de Sturler, lawyer

Rule #15: Love your appliances. Learn to use the “auto,” “self,” “delay” and countdown buttons on your dishwasher, coffee maker, washing machine and oven. — Sandrine Chaumette, works part-time for two mom-owned businesses.

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Posted on Saturday, August 9th, 2008
Under: Books, Parenting Issues | 3 Comments »

COLLEGE BOARD Launching 8th Grade Exam

sat The College Board, the multi-gazillionaires who already rake in the big bucks on the SAT, PSAT and assorted other high stakes exams, is set to launch an eighth grade college assessment exam in 2010. The reasoning, says Wayne Camara, a College Board exec, is that college-bound kids need to take rigorous high school courses from the get-go, and how else will they know? “By the time they’re taking the PSAT,” he told the LA Times, “it’s much too late to determine whether they should be taking algebra in the eighth grade, biology, and other important gatekeeper classes needed for college.”

Yeah, right, say critics. The College Board is pushing “admissions frenzy” into junior high because their rivals launched an 8th grade exam first. Nearly a million middle schoolers took ACT’s Explore exam in 2005-06. And now the SAT makers are “locked in a death match” with ACT, says Paul Kanarek, who heads up SoCal’s Princeton Review test prep service.

We’d like to weigh in with a couple of other thoughts. First, there are already plenty of crazed families who try to get a leg up on the competition by subjecting their children to the PSAT in middle school. This is merely a re-branding, a golden opportunity to guilt parents into paying not just for the PSAT and SAT — and the specialized prep courses that accompany each — but a whole new set of pre-PSATs and test prep services. And you know what comes next, right? The PPPPPPPPSAT, the essential college assessment exam for kindergartners.
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Posted on Friday, August 8th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst, Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

AMERICAN GIRL at Clayton Books

American Girl club at Clayton Books
Got an American Girl fan at home? Tell her to grab her favorite doll and head for Clayton Books tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The bookshop’s American Girls book club is discussing the newest star on AG’s booklist, Mia St. Clair, a young New Yorker who grew up playing ice hockey with her three big brothers. Now, she wants to figure skate and she feels torn between her new coach and her beloved sibs. Can she do both? Discuss.

The bookstore’s adorable American Girls club meets every month, by the way. Free, no rsvps needed, dolls welcome.

Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Under: Books | No Comments »

FAB FIVE for the Weekend

Playland-Not-At-The-Beach (Contra Costa Times)
1. For a dash of retro, pinball fun, check out the newly opened Playland-Not-At-The-Beach in El Cerrito. It’s open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but call before you go to make sure – (510) 232-4264 ext. 25. ($10-$15)

2. Join the merriment at Oakland’s free Laurel Street Festival Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. Live music, food booths and a “Kidsworld” with petting farm, pony rides, bumper cars and rock climbing.
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Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Under: Family Outings | No Comments »

BABY BORROWERS: Reunion, talk show, smackdown?

It was hard to tell just what NBC was trying to accomplish with “Baby Borrowers: Lessons Learned,” a town hall-style discussion. The show spent a lot of time rehashing ground already covered, when, let’s face it, those of us watching were the ones around for most of this televised experiment. After that, NBC tossed a lot at us. First up, we got recaps and updates with the teens, followed by the borrowed kids’ parents. The show’s producer almost got into a smackdown with a child psychologist lamenting the damage suffered by the children who were “forced” to participate. Then came a flash Q&A session with teen parents from the Massachusetts high school where 18 formed a pregnancy pact (oh wait, they say they didn’t know about any pact until they heard about it on the news). Next up, we had NBC selling us on the idea of Hollywood influencing teen pregnancy — oh what a network will do to drop Angelina Jolie’s name. And in the final 60 seconds, we got to see the teens reunite with the babies. Yep, blink and you missed it.

So, what did we learn? Don’t let NBC try to turn entertainment — or is it an educational program? (the root of that almost smackdown) — into a primetime talk show segment. Today Show host and town hall moderator Hoda Kotb spent the first 15 minutes so focused on the three teen couples sitting to her right that it became painfully obvious how much she was ignoring the other two. Let’s face it, those of us who love the show wanted to know one thing: were the couples together or separated? And the answer …?

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Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Under: Baby Borrowers | 2 Comments »